Vicar's Letter May 2018

MAY 2018

Dear Friends,


At the end of last month, we welcomed Liz Palin to the Clergy team working in this area. This was done in a service of worship. It is not enough to say welcome; the gifts that are offered to the person arriving are important, but not the whole story; the service at Eastington was not just an opportunity for her previous parish to say farewell to someone they have loved as she ministered to them. We needed together to pray to God for her; to worship God and to thank Him for the gifts that He has given and will give to her and to us as we share her ministry and she ours. We need to go on doing all those things for her and with her. We will do this in our private prayers, in our worship in the different parishes and on occasions in coming together to celebrate on a larger scale. The next occasion when we gather together (very soon!) will be in a joint celebration of Ascension Day - 10th May at 7.00 pm – at Frampton Church. If you'd like a lift, ask!


As I go to the different churches in the team, I notice many similarities and some differences. I am just beginning to get to know some of the members of the other congregations; they are people much like you! Mostly they wish there were more of them (though I am aware that if we at Stonehouse attracted the same proportion of the population as some of the little village churches there would be many more people at St. Cyr's!). Some are more willing than others to do things differently such as taking part in the service much closer to the altar at the far end or moving the holy table down towards the congregation. Some are more constrained by their buildings or what they contain. Some are keen on sticking to what they are used to in the words they use for worship; others find it refreshing to move towards (not really “to”!) the language that is most used by the young of our communities. As in St. Cyr's, some are happy to experiment with new music, others lament the falling into disuse of so many good old hymns. All of us, though, have to face the question, who are we catering for?


We are really only just beginning to start more radically different ways of doing worship which reach out to those not at present involved with Christ's Church as well as offer renewal to the old-stagers. Our efforts at St. Cyr's at hospitality to those passing by in our “Time-out” cafe are one example. Fretherne Church have been keen to invite people to come to church for hot dogs on Saturday mornings once a month and sometimes to a full roast dinner on a Sunday. Framilode offer breakfast with their informal Communion service once a month. Café Church is a form of worship which we have offered at St. Cyr's on a number of Sundays and is likely to become a bigger part of the mix of worship at St. Cyr's, and Celebrate Sunday at Cadbury Hall in Frampton is doing something similar. Those are just a selection of what is going on. Please do keep an eye on the notice board in the porch as adverts appear for events in the Team. To these present initiatives, the Stroudwater team is now adding two other events: Filling Station and Crossroads. The Filling Station will be a Tuesday evening meeting once a month in Standish Village Hall. It will offer a chance for exploring the Scriptures with speakers able to give more time than is ever possible in the course of a Eucharist, a chance to learn and use some of the new music that is sweeping across the church in this decade of the 21st century, an opportunity for fellowship that is rather more extensive than a quick chat over coffee before getting busy with Sunday lunch. “Come and see” is, quite simply, the invitation. Crossroads is specifically planned to reach out to those who have little or no present contact with the Church. How confident are you (am I?) at inviting such people to our regular worship? We need to work at new ways of invitation to people, not to join our club, but to meet God in Christ. Please pray for these new ventures, and where and when you can, be part of them.


In all of this, remember that it is not what you want (certainly not what I want) that matters. We seek - and pray for - God's kingdom, not our own. Our God is both the God of our ancestors and the God who makes – is making and will make – all things new. Let His Spirit work in you and with you as He fulfils that promise!

Charles Minchin